How to Answer the New Common Application Prompt

How to Answer the New Common Application Prompt

The Common Application introduced a new prompt this year, replacing this prompt:

Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

With this prompt:

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

In my opinion, this change reflects an emerging emphasis — likely the result of Covid-19 and a growing political divide in the US — on kindness and civic-mindedness. As ever, universities are interested in students who care about a greater good.  

How do you answer the new Common App prompt in a way that interests admissions officers, inspires them to keep reading, AND conveys the information they’re searching for in your writing? Read on.

Common App Prompt #4

The trap students fall into with this prompt fall into one (or more) of three categories: 1) Waxing philosophical about the importance of gratitude, 2) Focusing on a trite person, object, or experience, 3) Spending too much of the essay in summary mode.

To tackle this essay successfully, keep the story personal and focused on you, and avoid excessive summarization. Admissions officers don’t care so much about the object, scenario, or person you choose to write about; they care about how it has impacted you and your place in the world.

👉👉 Go small. Write about an interaction you witnessed, a seemingly insignificant event, or a conversation you had.

👉👉 Use a unique format or framing device.

👉👉 Take the reader in an unexpected direction.

Have fun! Just make sure your essay is about you. Keep it personal. Keep it positive, Make sure it reveals your values, passions, and qualities you want admissions officers to know about you.

Do you need help responding to this prompt in a compelling way? Let World Awaits help! We will start by getting to know you — your unique qualities, interests, values, and goals — to narrow down the best approach. We will then guide you step-by-step through the brainstorming, outlining, and editing processes to create a captivating essay that encapsulates you and your accomplishments. Reach out to us today!